asian mother quietly observing her newborn baby sleeping

Confinement is a period for your body to recuperate and recover from childbirth. You have probably heard some confinement practices yourself, and you may or may not agree with them all.

In fact, some of them don't have any scientific basis at all! So, let's bust some common confinement myths.

Related: Baby's Here: What to Expect Now

The Myths

1. "I cannot pray before an altar or enter a place of worship."

A similar myth is: "I cannot mingle with the rest of my family members or enter the kitchen."

Some believe the post-partum discharge (lochia) is unclean and that this practice prevents spiritual contamination. Again, there is no scientific basis to it.

2. "I heard that the Malay traditional practices are effective for regaining health."

There are six components to the traditional practices of postnatal care:

  1. Tuku — daily massage over the abdomen with a ball-like metal object
  2. Mengurut badan — massaging by an experienced masseuse
  3. Barut — tight wrap around the woman’s waist
  4. Salai — lying on a warmed wooden apparatus
  5. Air akar kayu — tonic drinks made from medicinal plants
  6. Pantang makan dan minum — to prohibit oneself from eating or drinking certain food items

Although these practices have never been proven scientifically, it is possible that they have certain benefits.

However, all these should be done in moderation to prevent burns and injuries from happening during massages and therapies. These practices have to be delayed for a month after a cesarean section to prevent the disruption of a healing wound.

It’s also important to have a well-balanced diet during this period.

3. "Bathing should not be an issue."

This is common in the Malay culture and is contrary to the Chinese practice. Bathing is good for personal hygiene and encouraged. You'll also feel fresh and comfortable.

4. "I cannot have sex for forty days."

Having sex right after giving birth is against the religious teachings of certain cultures, e.g. Malay culture. From a medical perspective, abstaining from sex allows for the lochia to be over and the episiotomy wound to be completely healed. This may also reduce the incidence of infections.

For more confinement myths, check out part 1 of this two-part series on confinement myths:

Read about confinement practices from other cultures:


Acknowledgment

Source: Dr TAN Thiam Chye, Dr TAN Kim Teng, Dr TAN Heng Hao, Dr TEE Chee Seng John, The New Art and Science of Pregnancy and Childbirth, World Scientific 2008.